|Jobs & The Economy: Putting America Back to Work|
|Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00|
Four years ago, our country faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, costing millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings. The road to recovery has not been easy, with so many still confronting many challenges. Like generations before us, we're pushing forward to rebuild our economy and help people get back on their feet. Much remains to be done after experiencing a near collapse of our economy.
My focus in Congress has been on job growth. I'm encouraged that the nation has steadily added private-sector jobs for the last 28 straight months. In our Congressional District, since June 2011, unemployment rates dropped from 8.4 percent to 7.1 percent in San Mateo County; 10.1 percent to 8.7 percent in Santa Clara County; and 11.4 percent to 9.9 percent in Santa Cruz County. Santa Clara County powered the nation's largest percentage gain in payroll jobs with a 3.5 percent increase in the past year. In a recent California Employment Development Department report, Santa Cruz County is forecasted to see a 50 percent increase in technology jobs by 2018. Santa Clara County is forecasted to see a 65 percent increase, and San Mateo County a 94 percent increase in biomedical engineering jobs.
In the housing sector, there is more good news. Santa Cruz County home sales are up by 14.1 percent from 2011, followed by 10.2 percent in San Mateo County and 1.2 percent gains in Santa Clara County. The foreclosure rates in our District are drastically down to 0.94%, compared to 2.45% statewide and 3.41% nationally.
Despite these gains, much more remains to be done to strengthen our economic recovery and create jobs. I'm continuing my work for strategic tax reform, smarter regulations that protect consumers without impeding growth, and investing in infrastructure, innovation, education, and capital formation.
Here are some of my recent accomplishments on behalf of our Congressional District:
I will continue to work hard to keep our local and national economy moving forward, and advocate for legislation and initiatives that promote job growth, improve our economy, and help put families back on their feet. Should you have any questions or comments, let me hear from you. I always need and benefit from your thinking.
Broadband Deployment—The telecommunications sector represents one-sixth of the American economy. It is a driving force in innovation, job creation, new business growth, and connectivity for online classrooms, health IT, smart grid technology and so much more. Yet, the U.S. is consistently ranked in the teens for broadband penetration amongst industrialized nations. California is ranked 22nd for broadband access among the states, with only 78.2 percent of California families having Internet access in their homes. I've supported an array of policies to boost competition and support rural build-out to help ensure that every household and business in America has access to affordable broadband.
In June, President Obama issued an Executive Order to implement my "Dig Once" legislation, which encourages states to begin installing broadband conduit (plastic pipes that house fiber-optic communications cable) during the construction of federal highways. The Federal Highway Administration estimates it is ten times more expensive to dig up and then repair an existing road to lay fiber, than to dig a channel for it when the road is being built or repaired.
I also helped write bipartisan legislation making new spectrum available to power our wireless revolution, protecting unlicensed spectrum for innovators, and finally creating a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network for public safety officials—fulfilling the last remaining recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. As part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, this bipartisan legislation will help meet the growing demand for wireless broadband that is forecasted to grow by 35 times over the next five years and ensure our nation's first responders have a communications network that is interoperable and supports both mission-critical voice and data services. The freed up spectrum and the subsequent creation of a public safety network are estimated to create 100,000 jobs for the American economy.
Caltrain—The California state legislature approved a $1.5 billion funding agreement to electrify Caltrain in July—a project that will increase safety, increase energy efficiency by 64 percent, lower pollution by 90 percent, boost revenue, and provide more travelling options for Peninsula residents. A recent report from the Bay Area Council also found that modernizing Caltrain will create approximately 9,600 jobs for the region.
I've been a fierce advocate for Caltrain modernization. In June 2010, I wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle that outlined my position. In June 2011, I secured $16 million for a Positive Train Control system to improve Caltrain's safety and efficiency, providing a foundation for essential signaling. In April 2011, together with my local state legislative colleagues, I called on the California High-Speed Rail Authority to drop their disastrous plan to tear up the Peninsula and instead develop plans for a blended system that would use high-speed rail funds to create a 21st century Caltrain. Peninsulans deserve a sensible, modern, clean system they can depend on.
Regulation A Legislation—In April of this year, the President signed into law legislation I championed to increase the Security and Exchange Commission's Regulation A offering limit from $5 million to $50 million. The Small Company Capital Formation Act, which was included in the JOBS Act, passed the House by a vote of 421-1. This will assist startup companies establish a better financial footing in their respective markets.
Regulation A has had a price cap of $5 million since 1992, with only seven companies taking advantage of it in 2010. Raising the cap is essential to the needed capital formation for startup businesses to create jobs, strengthen our economy, and promote the high-tech, sustainable energy, and life science sectors. This law will help small businesses and startups do just that.
Housing—The collapse of the mortgage market put millions of families in danger of losing their homes. We need greater relief for borrowers and accountability from banks. Until the housing market fully recovers, I believe our national economy will not fully recover.
In Feburary, President Obama and the 49 state Attorneys Generals' announced a $25 billion settlement for mortgage servicing abuses perpetrated by the five largest servicers: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Ally. The agreement provided some $18 billion for California, including at least $12 billion in principal reduction for "underwater borrowers."
This agreement followed a letter I sent with the California Delegation to President Obama, urging him to reject any settlement on mortgage servicer abuses that did not call the banks to fully account for their wrongdoing and compensate homeowners.
The agreement also implemented new borrower safeguards taken from the "Homeowner's Bill of Rights" I proposed with the California Democratic Delegation in October 2011. This includes an end to "dual tracking," a practice in which borrowers are foreclosed upon even as they negotiate the terms of a modification. It also guarantees a single point of contact for borrowers seeking information about their loans.
|Thomas Bill Search|